What About Bob? (1991)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Farce, Medical Comedy  |   Release Date - May 17, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Consternation is Richard Dreyfuss' best comic emotion, and he gets to act out quite a bit of it courtesy of Bill Murray in the Frank Oz comedy What About Bob? Dreyfuss' Dr. Leo Marvin is a callous, self-absorbed S.O.B. -- when his wife (Julie Hagerty) asks why he's so hostile towards Bob, it's telling that he responds "Because he's a patient." Even so, his character is in the right, because Bob is intensely annoying as played by Murray, who chews much scenery in channeling his Carl Spackler role from Caddyshack, lazy-lipped slurring and all. The fact that the audience is supposed to relish Marvin's frustrations, and join the chorus of hurrahs for Bob, is a little disorienting, because it puts them in the wrong shoes. Nonetheless, it's possible to sympathize with the shrink's dilemma while still laughing at the ways a clueless patient can unwittingly invade his life. That the doctor achieves unprecedented success with the patient is all the more ironic, because it would massage his massive ego if it weren't such an intolerable disruption to his vacation. Screenwriters Alvin Sargent, Tom Schulman, and Laura Ziskin do take things a bit far out of the realm of belief by the end, which is just one of the factors -- another being not enough belly laughs -- that keep this from becoming one of Murray's undisputed classics. Dreyfuss' performance is the more positively memorable; when he mangles the command "Get out of the car!" into rushed gibberish, boiling over as only Dreyfuss can, it's priceless.